New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, center left, listens to Con Ed President Tim Cawley, Sunday, July 14, 2019, as the mayor visits the site of Saturday night's power outage, on New York's Upper West Side. Con Ed says a power outage that left parts of Manhattan in the dark for several hours didn't have anything to do with demand on the electrical grid. Cawley says the cause of the Saturday night outage is still under investigation. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office via AP)

NYC mayor, running for president, on defense after blackout

July 15, 2019 - 12:50 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — New York's mayor fended off criticism Monday for being in Iowa campaigning for president while Manhattan was in the grips of a major power outage.

Bill de Blasio said on MSNBC that he was in frequent contact with agencies handling the emergency and that he thinks first responders did an "incredible job."

The Saturday night blackout darkened more than 40 square blocks of Manhattan, including Times Square.

De Blasio sidestepped criticism from numerous quarters, including from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat. A front-page New York Post editorial called for de Blasio's ouster.

During an appearance Monday on "Morning Joe," de Blasio insisted that the blackout response was well-managed with his remote supervision. No injuries were reported from the blackout, he said, noting that power was back on within several hours.

"It doesn't matter where you are, you're in charge of your team and making sure people are executing a plan," said the mayor, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. "The important thing is to get the right people into the right place."

De Blasio said he took a four-hour car ride from Iowa to Chicago and got on the first available plane home.

Cuomo, speaking on public radio Monday morning, said he would leave it to the voters of New York City to pass judgment on de Blasio's response, but added that "there's no substitute for firsthand information and firsthand knowledge" during an emergency.

"People want to see their leader on site, in charge, in control, and it makes people feel more confident," Cuomo said. "There is no substitute for showing up."

Cuomo ruled out the suggestion, raised by The Post's editorial, that he use his authority to remove de Blasio from office.

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